Pleasant Monday with highs in the low 70s

Family of one of the men killed in drilling rig explosion releases statement

QUINTON, Okla. – The family of one of the men killed in a drilling rig explosion in Pittsburg County has released a statement.

Around 9 a.m. Monday, emergency crews were called to an explosion at a well site about four miles southwest of Quinton.

Authorities say there were 22 workers on the well site, which was being drilled by Houston-based Patterson-UTI Energy.

A total of 17 workers were able to escape the explosion and ensuing fire.

Oil rig explosion in Quinton. (Photo Courtesy: Zayne Erickson)

One person was flown by helicopter to a Tulsa hospital with burn injuries, but five others couldn’t be found.

On Tuesday morning, officials identified the victims as 35-year-old Josh Ray, 29-year-old Matthew Smith, 26-year-old Cody Risk, 60-year-old Parker Waldridge and 55-year-old Roger Cunningham.

(Top left to right) Josh Ray, Matthew Smith, Cody Risk, (Bottom left to right) Parker Waldridge, and Roger Cunningham.

Officials with the Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Office say that the remains of all five workers were found around 2 p.m. on Tuesday. Investigators say the bodies were found in the last place where the men were working. Officials say the fire initially started in that area, but crews were not able to reach that part of the scene until Tuesday.

The remains will be taken to the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office for official identification.

Friday, Matthew Smith's family released a statement regarding the loss of their loved one.

We, the family of Matthew Smith, would like to express our deep appreciation for the outpouring of love and support from our friends and neighbors in recent days.  People are taken from us every day and we mourn their loss.  When it’s your phone that rings and someone on the other end tells you news that can never be forgotten, in an instant you realize that all those names and numbers, accidents and tragedies that we hear about every day belong to someone whose world will never be the same.  Our world…is forever changed.  These weren’t just men “missing” or “lost” in an accident.  These were men who had families who loved them. 

Matthew was everything to us.  It may seem very cliché to say that he was a good man…but Matthew was a rare find.  He loved the outdoors, hunting and fishing, but family was his life blood.  His prized accomplishment was his son, Rhett to whom he loved being Daddy.  He was the true love of Julie, the firstborn bouncing baby boy to Doyle (Goob) and Edie, and big brother and protector to Emily and Bryan, who was also his best friend with the exception of Julie.  He has left a space in our lives that will never be filled.  You may not realize it, but this world is not the same place it was before. 

With the love and support of our friends and family, many we don’t even know, we will continue to put one foot in front of the other until the day we see him again.  Hold your loved ones close, forgive every chance you can, and live each day with meaning. 

As we move through these days, please understand that our time together as a family is intensely personal.  Please help us do this by respecting our privacy.

An email account, InMemoryMattSmith1Patterson219@gmail.com, is in place and is a great place for friends and family to share memories, expressions of sympathy, and photos of Matthew with his family, particularly with his son when he is old enough to understand.   

Services will be held for Matthew at 2PM on Tuesday, January 30th at the McAlester Expo Center.  In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Rhett Smith account at any BancFirst branch in Oklahoma. 

Matthew Smith (photo cropped from Facebook)

Investigators are looking into how the explosion happened.

An initial report released by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission claims that there was an uncontrolled release of gas that caught fire. It also states that an employee attempted to shut down the well, but could not.

The OCC also recommended that soil samples be collected to determine the extent of the pollution from the explosion.